Eleven years ago today, on Aug. 6, 2011, the Oak Ridge Boys fulfilled a lifelong dream when they were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Their induction came more than 70 years after the original version of the quartet (then known as the Oak Ridge Quartet) first appeared on the hallowed stage.
“We’ve always been a friend of the Opry,” Joe Bonsall says. “We’ve always believed in the Opry and loved and respected every member of this brotherhood and sisterhood of country music.”
The Oak Ridge Boys, which also includes Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban, sang their hits “Bobbie Sue” and “Elvira” during their big night. They also performed an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.”
“Every time we have been asked to sing here, we have,” Bonsall told The Boot before their performance. “We have played here so many times, we have lost track. It’s like we’ve been asked to dinner for a long time, and all of a sudden they are saying, ‘Welcome, now you’re moving in!’
“The Opry means the world to us,” he added, “and now that we’re a part of the brother- and sisterhood here, we can finally say we are Grand Ole Opry stars.”
President George W. Bush made a surprise video appearance during the quartet’s induction as well, congratulating the iconic group on their achievement.
“I cannot think of any group or any person who deserves this honor more,” Bush said, recalling hearing the Oaks perform “Elvira” on the White House lawn. “I ran outside like a little kid, and I’ve been blessed to call them friends ever since. I think of the Opry and the Oaks both as American icons — beloved from coast to coast and known around the world. I can’t think of a better union.”
After the Oak Ridge Boys’ induction-night performance, Pete Fisher, then-general manager and vice president of the Opry, along with Little Jimmy Dickens, were on hand to officially induct the new members.
“It is a great honor to stand here at the Grand Ole Opry, on the same stage where Little Jimmy Dickens stands,” Golden said.
Added Sterban, “Coming from Little Jimmy, it makes it an even more special night. To be on this stage, where the greats have walked, and to be a part of the Opry family, is very special.”
LOOK: The Grand Ole Opry Through the Years